Drew McIntyre must save WWE’s main-event scene after finally fulfilling WrestleMania dream
Drew McIntyre fulfilled “The Chosen One” prophecy. Now he must become WWE’s main-event savior.
He wasn’t that on Day 2 of WrestleMania 36 from the fan-less Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. on Sunday as a third Claymore Kick — after kicking out of three F5s — finally put away WWE champion Brock Lesnar. The moment — which really missed the crowd — completes McIntyre’s 11-year journey to his first world title in WWE.
The match itself was a better, higher-impact version of the Braun Strowman-Goldberg dud from the night before as Day 2 gave us plenty of good story, but inconsistent action.
The WWE title match further exposed a problem WWE has had at the top of its card – especially after jobbing out Kofi Kingston. The company’s best wrestlers are not their top champions and it feels like the two belts have cycled between Roman Reigns, Goldberg, Seth Rollins and Lesnar for the most part with AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt mixed in. McIntyre is a fresh, likable face. It’s up to him to run with the opportunity and break the stagnation.
The Firefly FunHouse match between John Cena and Wyatt did just that. It was the opposite of Day 1’s boneyard match, delivering a more lighthearted and bizarre type of entertainment. The match was a bad Cena dream with the Mister Rogers-like Wyatt as the twisted puppeteer making him face his greatest fears and failures. Wyatt even threw in a “You can look but you can’t touch line” early as a nod to Cena’s breakup with Nikki Bella.
We saw Cena show up in his “Prototype” gear from the Ruthless Aggression era in which he nearly got fired and his Doctor of Thuganomics Yankees’ jersey. One skit was a WCW Nitro flashback where Wyatt was Eric Bischoff and Cena joined the NWO in a Hollywood Hogan heel turn that never was for the now movie star. Wyatt – who even donned his Wyatt family gear at one point – taunted Cena throughout and made reference to his loss to Cena at WrestleMania 30.
Wyatt – finally as The Fiend – used the Mandible Claw to make Cena disappear to earn the win. He vanquished “the most overhyped, overvalued, overprivileged WWE superstar in existence” – making Cena’s own promo words come back and haunt him.
The cherry on top was the FunHouse’s Devil Vince McMahon puppet doing some commentary and uttering the McMahonism “This is such good s—t” during the match. It was good to see WWE not take itself too serious and kudos to Cena and Wyatt for putting that together. This is the type of creativity that can make Wyatt’s character special.
As creative as that segment was, it’s hard to say the same about Edge and Randy Orton’s 36-minute Last Man Standing match throughout every inch of the Performance Center.
It started with an RKO after Orton posed as a cameraman and then felt like playing WWE 2K20 where there was a lot of interesting stuff around, but nothing truly interesting happened with it. Announcers Tom Philips and Bryon Saxton did little to make the beating these two were dishing out more believable and viscous.
Still, Edge looked great – even jumping off some scaffolding onto Orton. He was nearly in conflicted tears before standing on top of a WWE truck and delivering the identical chair shot to The Viper’s head that started this feud. Edge will get plenty more changes and will benefit from being in the ring.
The night’s best traditional clash was the opener between Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley. Flair continues to be the golden girl and is on top of NXT again. The Wednesday Night War with All Elite Wrestling just got more interesting with The Queen’s return to the black-and-gold brand.
She defeated Ripley with the Figure Eight in a very snug, classic contest that would have played even better with a crowd. Ripley dominated the early portion before Flair was able to turn things around by working the left knee of the NXT women’s champion. Ripley did her best to sell it while pulling off some impressive power moves.
She ultimately had to relent to Flair, who has plenty of fresh challengers waiting for her in NXT – Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Mia Yim, or maybe a Bianca Belair rematch. Outside of her own rematch, Ripley has a less clear path forward.
While there is plenty to look forward to, WWE built up Ripley and Shayna Baszler out of NXT for this WrestleMania and both lost. So much for being on the main roster. The women who won at WrestleMania 36 were Flair, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Alexa Bliss as part of a tag team with Nikki Cross. Those names sound familiar?
The SmackDown women’s five-way elimination championship match did what it needed to do. It began to put doubt and mystery around Bayley and Sasha Banks’ friendship. At least WWE didn’t have Banks and Bayley as the final two. The champion inadvertently knocked over The Boss and led to her getting hit with a Women’s Right from Lacey Evans and getting eliminated. Banks did return to hit Evans with a backstabber to ensure her friend’s win. But the look on her face showed there are some cracks in their bond as Banks tries to win the one WWE championship that’s eluded her.
WWE gold didn’t slip through the fingers of host Rob Gronkowski again. The former New England Patriots tight end leaped off a small balcony into the crowd of wrestlers chasing after Mojo Rawley. It was Gronkowski who got the 1-2-3 on his friend to become 24/7 champion. This has a chance to be fun and bring out the best in Gronk.
WrestleMania needs to be two days from here out. Everything was so much easier to digest and enjoy. Kudos to WWE for giving us two entertaining nights when we really need it with everything else seemingly shut down by the coronavirus.
Otis over Dolph Ziggler
WWE kept this simple and delivered the moment we wanted. Sonya Deville hit Otis with a low blow, Mandy Rose appears, hits Deville and then low blows Ziggler so Otis gets the opening to earn the pin and the win. He scoops her up, Rose plants a kiss on him and everyone leaves happy. Hopefully Heavy Machinery gets a push out of this and Rose and Deville get a meaningful singles feud.
The Street Profits over Angel Garza and Austin Theory to retain the Raw tag team championships
These teams did the best they could with a short amount of time. Montez Ford’s leap off the top rope broke up a pin and ensured the champs retained. The most memorable moment followed. Belair came to her husband and Angelo Dawkins’ aid as they were getting beaten up post-match for her WrestleMania moment.
Aleister Black over Bobby Lashley with Lana
This was less pointless than expected. It was good to see Black get tossed around by someone as powerful as Lashley after so many Raw squash matches. We could also see some tension between Lana and Lashley after his wife told him to spear Black. That turned into a Black Mass kick to end the match.
Liv Morgan over Natalya (Kickoff)
Morgan gets a “resume-builder” win over Natalya in a match better suited for a Performance Center practice session than WrestleMania. Morgan has a ways to go, but you have to start somewhere.
Biggest Night 2 winner: Drew McIntyre (Overall: Drew McIntyre)
Biggest Night 2 loser: Women’s division outside the Four Horsewomen (Overall: NXT women)
Best Night 2 match: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair, NXT women’s championship (Overall: Undertaker vs. AJ Styles, Boneyard match)
Predictions: 7-2 (13-5 Overall)
Night 2 Grade: B+ (Overall A-)
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